Does Your Teen Have Major Depressive Disorder? Your Teen May Qualify For SSI

9 December 2015
 Categories: , Articles

Depression among teenagers is something that is fairly common, unfortunately. In fact, 20% of teens in the United States experience depression before they become adults. However, about 5% of teens experience major depression, which can seriously impact their ability to function. In turn, this can negatively impact the entire family, including the parents' ability to earn a living. 

If your teenager (or younger child) is severely depressed, he or she may meet the criteria of having major depressive syndrome, which is listed as a mood disorder and classified as a disability. If their inability to function is causing you to miss a lot of work, you may be interested in learning about Supplemental Security Income for children with disabilities. Here's what you need to know. 

Major Depressive Syndrome

Major depressive disorder is more than just being sad and/or feeling worthless. It affects the individual's ability to perform tasks that are necessary for daily living, such as not being able to get out of bed in the morning to go to school. Your teen may not be able to sleep, or may want to sleep all the time.

He or she may no longer take joy in extracurricular interests and activities. Major depressive disorder can also lead to suicidal thoughts, self-harm (cutting), hallucinations, and paranoia. If you think your teen may have this disorder, it is crucial that you have him or her evaluated by a mental health professional, preferably a psychiatrist. 

Caution: Take your teen to the ER immediately if they are having suicidal thoughts and/or they are self-harming. 

Mental Health Disability Criteria

The Social Security Administration offers supplemental security income to those who qualify by meeting the criteria. For major depressive syndrome in children, the qualification requirements include medical documentation that show a persistence, which can be either intermittent or continuous, as well as at least 5 characterizations of the disorder, such as: 

  • extremely decreased interest in nearly all activities 
  • unexpected weight changes 
  • inability to fall asleep or remain asleep
  • difficulty concentrating
  • suicidal thoughts
  • feeling worthless
  • movements caused by anxiety (for example: pacing and wringing hands)

Your teen's psychiatrist will be able to assess your teen's mental health and provide the documentation that is necessary for the Social Security Administration. Be sure to inform the psychiatrist and other mental health professionals who work with your teen that you will be filing a claim for SSI. That way, they can begin the process and use the correct documentation.

Income Limit Requirements for SSI 

Another criteria to meet to be eligible for SSI is income. Your teen's income (if any), and your earned and unearned income is taken into consideration. For example, if you are a single parent raising two children (one with a disability), your earned income limit is $3,424 a month. If you make under the limit and your teen meets the disability requirements, your teen could receive a check for $733 a month. If you fall under the income limit, SSI can help alleviate some of the financial stress you may feel, especially when you cannot leave your teen alone to go to work when he or she has suicidal thoughts.

If, however, your income exceeds the limit, it's still a good idea to file a claim through a social security disability attorney. Even though your teen is not currently eligible for SSI due to your income, he or she can re-apply when they are no longer considered a child when they turn 18 years of age. At that point, they fall under a different category in which the parent(s) income is not used, even though they may still live with their parent(s).

For more information and legal assistance in the application process, talk with social security disability attorneys or visit websites like